As we eyed the brown blur on the horizon and saw pieces of dried cornstalks flying across the highway along with the tumbleweed, we reminded ourselves of her words. We even pulled over when we heard something bump against the RV. Opening the door without having it ripped off its hinges was a hard-won battle, but once outside, we didn’t see any damage, so we wrestled with the door to get back inside and carried on our way.
Just south of Oakley on Highway 83, we passed the magnificent sculpture of Buffalo Bill Cody, with a rifle to his shoulder, chasing a bison. It was around these parts that he won the buffalo-hunting contest that entitled him to his nickname way back when.
Although “flat” is the main adjective in describing the Kansas terrain, we did encounter a few places where the ground dipped into a riverbed or rose to a rounded hill or two. We even saw a couple of low sculpted rock formations, and saw signs for the turnoff to see the rock monument nearby. Having seen a massive number of same in Utah, we continued on our way.
We left the 83 and turned east on Highway 50 at Garden City. Just a few miles west of the city is Holcomb, the small town where the Clutter family was murdered by two ex-cons in 1959. Their story was the subject of Truman Capote’s best-selling book, “In Cold Blood”.
Huge grain elevators, farm equipment stores, pickup trucks and vast expanses of combed earth ready for spring planting gave clear evidence of the agricultural importance of this state. As we approached Cimarron, we began to see feed lots with literally thousands of cattle in huge pens, fattening up for their transformation into steaks and hamburgers.
A silhouette of a cowboy posse is set on a hill at the western edge of town with “Dodge City” in big letters at its base. The town was originally the site of Fort Dodge, built to protect wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail and to furnish supplies for soldiers fighting the Indian wars on the plains. Colonel Richard Dodge was the first commander of the fort, and he’s now immortalized in this iconic town.
Gunsmoke Trav-L-Park is the name of our RV campground and on the porch of the office build-ing are dis-plays of hay bales, milk cans, old saddles and wagon wheels. The usual map of the RV sites includes a notation of “Chester’s Grave”, so I went out to have a look after supper. There next to the porch was a weathered stone with “Chester 1879” and, protruding from the ground was a leg and a cowboy boot!
Our first order of the day after setting up was to find some groceries, so we got a glimpse of the outskirts on the way to WalMart. We’ll be seeing more tomorrow!